Good News . . . and Hopeful Signs
I am unaccustomed to receiving good political news in Virginia during the General Assembly session. So the word from our friends at Equality Virginia that the State Senate passed SB 701—with several votes to spare—was welcome.
What made it even sweeter is that I am in Atlanta attending Creating Change, the annual conference organized by the National Gay Lesbian Task Force—now known just as “the Task Force”—with 3,000 other LGBT and allied activists. I got to celebrate this victory with many other Virginia activists—something we might not have been able to do had we been home in our offices and communities.
And I want to tell you that this is not the only hopeful sign for us in Virginia.
Another good sign is the number of us who are here—not just folks I know from other statewide and local groups in Richmond but others, too.
And in some ways I think the most hopeful sign is that I am here. I don’t mean it’s about me, but rather that the fact that the Board of People of Faith for Equality in Virginia (POFEV) chose to spend almost $1,500 to send me here for five days of intensive training and networking. We have not done anything like this before.
POFEV is on the move, my friends. We are gearing up to hire our first full-time employee and to begin to build a real and powerful grassroots, statewide movement for equality.
I just came from a 90-minute panel discussion among faith-based activists from the four states where the marriage equality movement experienced ballot victories in 2012—Minnesota, Maine, Maryland, and Washington. Each of the speakers was inspiring and had an important message about some aspect of faith work that contributed to success at the ballot box.
I took a lot of notes, as I have done at other workshops as well. I am coming back to Virginia ready to begin “reving” things up.
They also all had this message:
This is about more than marriage and even more than just about LGBT rights & equality. It is about creating a new world where justice is the norm for all.
That is where people of faith come together—creating a world where all God’s people have not only legal protections but also where their personhood and livelihood and bodies are treated with the dignity and wholeness all deserve. The faith movement for equality brings together all faiths. Without the participation of all—clergy yes, and also lay leaders and people who have never been active before—we cannot create the change our faith calls us to embody.
But we also must recognize the particularities of individuals and communities—legal marriage is not the immediate or pressing goal for the single lesbian mother, white or black or brown, with a low-income job or no income who cares for three children. Employment nondiscrimination may mean little to the undocumented gay or transgender worker.
I don’t mean to make our job harder by mentioning complications, but I do mean for us to understand that our movement has many parts and is made up of many communities. We must work at the intersections and create change that works for all. In the long run, it makes our work last and cements the good we do.
That is something our faiths teach us. All matter. That is what we bring to the table of organizing and mobilizing Virginians for equality and justice.
I have never been more hopeful about our prospects. I hope you are, too.
And if you’d like to help, here’s some immediate suggestions:
- Contact your Delegate today to urge a yes vote on SB 701. You can go here to find your Delegate.
- Plan to visit your Delegate and Senator this Tuesday, January 29, as part of Equality Virginia’s Day of Action. More information here, including information about virtual participation.
- Contribute financially to POFEV to support the Board’s decision to send me, as President, to this conference and to begin the process of hiring the first full-time staff person (we have a plan to hire more in the years ahead, but we start with one). Click the button on the right to use PayPal or send your check to POFEV, PO Box 4919, Richmond, VA 23220.
- And if you’re clergy, sign our statement, jointly supported by POFEV and EV, in support of employment nondiscrimination. Click here for that.
We are not in this for the short haul. We are people of faith and we know that real change, deep change that touches people’s souls and truly lasts, takes work and commitment and hope over the long haul. We know our work is extending themoral arc of the universe, about which Dr. King spoke, so that it truly bends toward justice. We are called to be those who help bend it with strength and courage and joy.
There is more, indeed with God, with an awareness of the great forces of truth and justice, there is always more.
~ Rev. Dr. Robin Gorsline, President. POFEV
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